The Venice Commission urged the Belarusian authorities to reconsider the punishment for mass events; the authorities refused to hold Freedom Day on 25 March; EU, USA, and OSCE supported the negotiations initiative to resolve the crisis in Belarus
22 March 2021 | Voice of Belarus
The Venice Commission: “peaceful demonstrations should not be subject to the threat of harsh penalties such as imprisonment or heavy fines”
The Venice Commission, an advisory body of the Council of Europe that deals with legal issues, published a report on the situation in Belarus. It states that a protest movement cannot in itself be a basis for initiating a criminal case if it is non-violent. Peaceful demonstrations should not be subject to the threat of criminal penalties such as imprisonment or heavy fines. The Commission calls on the Belarusian authorities to reconsider the punishment for mass events and reiterated its readiness to start a dialogue with the Belarusian authorities to clarify the legislation so that it would comply with the principles of human rights and international obligations that Belarus has appropriated.
The authorities refused to hold Freedom Day on 25 March
The organizers of the Freedom Day were denied permission to hold a rally under the pretext of coronavirus and calls from “extremist Telegram channels” to take to the streets. A request to hold Freedom Day was submitted by three public organizations. According to the organizers, the event was supposed to be a procession, meeting and concert.
In Mahiliou, a member of the United Civil Party, Raman Davydau, was fired for filing an application to hold a rally.
The brutality of the Belarusian security forces in the CNN report
The American television channel CNN published an investigation into the brutality of the security forces against peaceful protesters in Belarus. In its report, victims of torture talk about bullying, beatings, and sexual violence. Also detaining a car with protesters was published from BYPOL materials: security forces shoot at the car, throw people to the ground face down, and kick them. Until now, the country’s investigative bodies have not opened a single criminal case against the security forces for violence against civilians.
EU, USA and OSCE supported the negotiations initiative to resolve the crisis in Belarus
Today on 22 March, Vilnius hosted the Kalinowski Forum, which was organized by the Lithuanian Seimas with the participation of Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. The participants actively discussed the political situation in Belarus and talked about ways to overcome the crisis in the country. Here is the summary of the Forum:
- Ingrida Šimonytė, Prime Minister of Lithuania, and Žygimantas Pavilionis, the Chairman of the Lithuanian Foreign Affairs Committee, expressed support for a peaceful solution to the crisis in Belarus. The West should not only discuss the situation but also act.
- David McAllister, the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament, said that the EU will focus its assistance on combating lawlessness, supporting democracy and organizing dialogue in Belarus for a peaceful transfer of power.
- Josep Borrell, the head of European diplomacy, said: “We have completely revised our relations with Belarus, reduced political contacts and stopped financial support to the authorities. We continue to believe that dialogue is the only way to peacefully resolve the crisis. And we are ready to support this process.”
- Julie Fisher, US Ambassador to Belarus, expressed strong support for Tsikhanouskaya’s initiative to vote for negotiations and the OSCE’s readiness to mediate in this matter.
- George Kent, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs, supported the initiative on negotiations in Belarus. He said that the dialogue will be the next step to resolve the Belarusian crisis, to stop the violence and to release political prisoners.
- Peter Bowness, OSCE PA President, stressed that the OSCE is ready to act as observers in future elections and help Belarusians in electoral, constitutional, and other reforms.